Advice for an iPad Power user who is getting their first Mac

Hey, everyone.
I am looking for some advice.
I have been using an iPad ever since Apple Pencils came out.
As a teacher of Mathematics, it was the game changer that meant in lessons I could use a device to write Maths on (I am English, hence the “s” on Maths).
My school is Microsoft-based for software, so we use OneNote and Teams for lessons, but all teachers have an iPad Pro 12.9”. A strange mix, I know, but it is working pretty well.
I would consider myself a nearly Power user of my iPad Pro, particularly as my surname is actually Power!
I use my iPad Pro every day, in every way. A few Shortcuts, some keyboard shortcuts, a remote keyboard or two. No coding or scripting. Yet!
With lockdown in the UK, I have been teaching from home again, and have evolved a four-screen set up.
School iPad Pro to refer to my notes in OneNote, take the register, deal with school email etc
Personal iPad Pro from which I join my lessons using Teams. This always takes the audio for the lesson. I use my Pencil on this one during screen-sharing on Teams with my classes.
My iPhone 8 on a stand for monitoring a class Teams Chat during lessons. A very useful tool, as an educator.
A beast of an old Windows PC where I join the lesson’s Teams meeting and use the Participants list to see who has their e-hand up as well as viewing the class in “Together view”, so they almost look like a real class!
Yes, I feel like I am sitting in Mission Control.
To help with this situation, and because I am getting a little bit frustrated about some of the limitations of the iPad Pro, I have ordered a new MacBook Air M1. So exciting!
And it is arriving next week.
As a total beginner with Macs, I would really appreciate some tips and suggestions for the best way to learn how to use the Mac (guides, videos, blogs, websites etc) and some ideas on how to set things up from scratch.
For example, if you were starting again, what are the three golden rules you would follow?
Any advice appreciated.
I know how great this forum is for helping others, so I thought that this time, instead of being mainly a reader, I would Post my first Topic instead and see what I learn.
Thank you for reading this far.

It would be helpful to know what “limitations of the iPad Pro” are frustrating for you – because that info might lead to a better understanding of your expectations for the MacBook Air.

First off when I move into a new machine I want to

  1. Install the software I am familiar with and use – so in your case I suppose that would be Microsoft 365, especially Teams and OneNote
  2. Because of (#1) you’d then want to get your cloud storage set up – I assume you’ve been using OneDrive? You can also fiddle with iCloud if you want to exchange files with the iPad(s) that way.
  3. If you’re not going to be tossing the iPads overboard, then get familiar with Mac services side as SideCar, Handoff.
  4. Think about your file structure on the Mac if you are going to be keeping files in Documents or elsewhere – don’t go overboard setting up a file hierarchy or anything; take this step gradually.
  5. Understand the lay of the land with Macs: System Preferences, Services, Time Machie.
  6. Get started with a backup strategy – there’s a lot of threads in this forum on the topic, so browse around.
  7. Don’t go overboard adding a lot of software – take your time sussing out what types of apps you might want.
  8. Come back here when you need more pointers! Welcome!
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I was kind of in similar situation few years ago. I suggest take step by step and don’t try to learn everything in one day. Get familiar with Finder since it is very powerful file management tool. Use spotlight to find files and folders, I guess you are familiar with it from iPad. If you feel Spotlight not enough for you, you can take look at Alfred or Launch bar. They are more powerful alternatives for Spotlight. Personally I started with Alfred and use it since then. However I downloaded LaunchBar few days ago because I get frustrated that Alfred workflow editor is not accessible. LaunchBar is nice and feels more native part of OS.

What else, there is huge variation of third-party utilities. People on this forum are big fans of DefaultFolder X and Bartender (First which came to min). If you deal with a lot of files and file management in general, hazel can be something interesting for you. Can move files and folders automatically based on your rules.

There is a lot of cool stuff you can do with Mac and I guess people bellow will come up with great suggestions as well :blush:

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Thank you, that is really helpful.

The limitations of the iPad that are starting to annoy me are:

The limited number of Apps that can be used at once. Split screen was great when it arrived, but still only two Apps at once. Slide-over is very useful, but again limited.

The single video and sound channel, so that on Teams, if I go to a different app (or if my students do) the video feed cuts off. I can’t play the sound on a video clip if I am screen-sharing with a class.

The slowness of moving files.

The lack of drag and drop support for OneNote, between, for example, Mail and OneNote.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad and will probably want to use one so long as the Apple Pencil can’t be used on a Mac. As a mathematician, I cannot type Maths in the same way as I can hand write it.

Thank you again for the tips. I will get learning - and take my time enjoying the process.

That is really helpful. Thank you.

As you say, I should take my time and enjoy.

I know that my Mac will be fantastic and the more I learn, the more it can bring more Apple delight into my life!

I agree with those above saying don’t install too much software. I’d go further and say aside from your M365 stuff, which is obviously essential, don’t install anything until you find you have a need that macOS cannot already handle, or you want “that little bit more”.

These days there is pretty much a parity of apps from Apple on each of the platforms so nothing should be too different (especially now we have Catalyst versions of many).

The one thing I will warn you about with regard to M365 is the Mac apps and the Windows apps do not have feature parity. This is most obvious in Outlook but you will notice it in Word, Excel, and OneNote (the three I have any familiarity with). Teams, however, seems pretty darn close between the two and I use that daily for work. If I work from home I use it on my Mac and in the office I use it on Windows and I never have to think which one I’m using.

When I switch to the Mac 10 years ago I found David Pogue’s book “Switching to the Mac” to be a valuable resource. Explained how the Mac did things from a Windows perspective.

When at my desk I have my Air connected to a 27” monitor. Lots of screen real estate to work with. I use the Air in clamshell mode with full size keyboard.

Thank you for the tips.

I do find the differences in functionality between the different versions of M365 apps really frustrating. Microsoft hide things away so much already and then you have to think what is available on which version.

When students have a tech issue, my first questions are what device they are using and whether they are on the web app or the downloaded version. Very time consuming.

I love the idea that core Apps will feel the same on a Mac.

I have just ordered David Pogue’s latest Mac guide - so new I had to pre-order! Thank you for the suggestion.

A big screen, eh?

Very tempting.

But probably not sensible for me as I have no dedicated office space at home. Just the bedroom dressing table for seated work and the top of a filing cabinet as a standing desk. Everything gets packed away as part of my end of the day shutdown. This is part of the attraction of the Air.

I’d recommend getting Loopback and Audio Hijack, both from Rogue Amoeba. When I teach I have my mic running into Audio Hijack which adjusts the EQ and adds some compression, then I have a virtual device named “Presentation Sources” in Loopback which pulls in the output from Audio Hijack, Safari, Keynote, That’s what I use as a virtual mic in Zoom. I’d double-check that Teams can use a virtual mic. This combo works great for me - happy to provide more details if needed.

See Rogue Amoeba | Enhancing microphone input with audio effects
Rogue Amoeba | Using Loopback to add audio to voice chat (VoIP)
for more info.

Not cheap but there’s a discount if you buy them together ($130 USD or so), and a Podcasting bundle for like $15 more - I bought the latter but haven’t ended up using the other two apps (Farrago, an audio effects app, and Fission, an audio editor) very much.

That is really interesting. Thank you. At the moment I am trying to not spend much extra as this is my second big lockdown purchase (the personal iPad Pro being the first) but maybe one day!

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This guy agrees :slight_smile:

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Be warned! This is a slippery slope. Once you use these apps, you will end up with all of Rogue Amoeba’s apps. :heart: this post if you agree, let’s see how high it goes.